Library filed under General from North Carolina
Three large wind-energy projects in North Carolina that promised jobs and electricity for thousands of homes have stalled, facing hurdles ranging from a lack of power purchasers to migrating swans.
Wind energy is not going to be cheap. There is just no way that's going to happen ... that was recognized early on. But if jobs could come to North Carolina en masse ... that would overcome negativity with the cost of generating it." But the prospect for jobs locally is unclear. Any wind turbines erected off the coast would most likely be constructed in federal waters.
But months of talks with neighboring power companies have failed to yield a contract. Iberdrola will not be able to finance the project until it can show institutional lenders a long-term contract with guaranteed cash flow. Progress Energy in Raleigh, one of Desert Wind's potential customers, ended talks with Iberdrola after the parties couldn't agree.
The project has been approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission. It would cost about $600 million to build. And construction must start before year end to qualify for a 30% federal tax break. The trouble has been that Iberdrola has not been able to secure a contract from any utility that serves North Carolina to buy the power the wind-farm would produce.
But what is Pantego Wind Energy LLC? It is a subsidiary of Invenergy, a Chicago-based energy corporation that is one of the five largest (and the number one independent) owners of wind generation plants in the U.S. This corporation with more than $130 million in assets wants you (and me) to subsidize their Pantego Wind Facility.
Critics have pointed to several problems, not the least of which is the windmills - with blades turning at 200 mph - might be trouble for migratory waterfowl from nearby Pungo National Wildlife Refuge and other wildlife. Also, a successful project could result in more land might be gobbled up and more windmills erected, opponents say.
Craig Poff, the senior developer for Iberdrola Renewables’ 300-megawatt wind farm planned near Elizabeth City, says it is almost impossible complete his project by the end of 2012 if he has to wait months to get a contract. “The timing is unfortunate,” he says.
Chicago-based Invenergy has notified the N.C. Utilities Commission that it plans to build a 49-turbine facility on 11,000 acres in Beaufort County. If approved, the Pantego Wind Energy projectwould begin generating electricity in December 2012.
A long ride on a dusty Pasquotank County farm road - a right after the tractor shed, a left at the edge of the bean field - eventually leads to a recently harvested wheat field two miles from the nearest paved road.
Onshore wind farms appear to be more hazardous to wildlife, said Dr. Peterson, mainly because there are more birds and bats on the coast than miles out at sea. Offshore, marine life could also be affected, he said, as the construction or sound of the turbines may affect their habitat.
Propes, however, said "these maps are sort of directional (and) are no way near final. There's still a heck of a lot of lease blocks that remain viable," though he admitted that the military exclusions were pretty much beyond change.
Gamesa intends to sell the electricity generated by the turbine to recoup some of its design-and-build costs - which, Hopper estimated, could be as high as $20 million. The company aims to install the turbine next year. As far as what the project could mean economically for Dare County, Hopper committed to nothing.
An Oregon company is seeking regulatory approval to erect North Carolina's first commercial wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties in the northeastern corner of the state. Iberdrola Renewables wants to build 150 wind turbines.
Property owners, including Wood, have talked with Iberdrola Renewables officials and have visited similar projects in other states, he said. Tall wind towers, even in the Bull Yard, could obstruct an airfield in Hales Lake. The two tracts are separated only by swampy woodlands, Wood said. Invenergy, a Chicago-based energy company, has also expressed interest in Hales Lake, he said.
Duke Energy Corp. said Thursday that it has dropped plans to install demonstration wind turbines on the North Carolina coast, saying the project was too small to be worth the cost. Duke Energy Carolinas had planned to install three wind turbines in the Pamlico Sound under a collaboration with the University of North Carolina.
"There's a long list of things (that will need to be done). Any one of those could kill a project," he said. Carrico said community support will be critical. The proposal has drawn criticism from nearby residents concerned about the noise and light that the wind turbines may produce. Carrico's response is residents living a quarter- to a half-mile away will hear nothing.
Plans are moving forward that could see up to three wind turbines placed in the Pamlico Sound as early as next year to provide power for homes on the Outer Banks. It's all part of a first step that could see massive wind farms placed out in the ocean.
The idea of harnessing wind for generating power faces an uncertain future. The state Senate passed a bill last year that would essentially ban the construction of commercial wind turbines in the mountains. The legislation would limit their height to 100 feet, and commercial turbines are at least 200 feet.
The North Carolina House continues to consider a bill that would ban all commercial-sized wind turbines in Western North Carolina. Introduced in March 2009, Senate Bill 1068 and House Bill 809 were originally designed to set up a statewide permit process for the construction of wind turbines in Western North Carolina.
Construction of a demonstration wind energy project in Pamlico Sound could begin as early as next year, according to state officials who met with Outer Banks residents to discuss offshore wind energy Friday. ...[Gov. Beverly] Perdue told the audience that the state could position itself as a leader in "green energy," developing innovative ways that would help the environment and also create jobs. "Make no mistake though, every governor in America is thinking about this. North Carolina has to do as much as we can do safely or we will fail," she said.